Monday, December 30, 2013

The Journey of 2013

I am not one who looks back too often. I tend to be focused on today, or looking forward. But since 2013 was the first year that I chose a word (JOURNEY) to signify my year, I thought it would be good to look back and see where 2013's Journey has taken me.

Thanks to Susannah Conway's Unravelling the Year Ahead 2014, which began with a section called Unravelling The Year Behind the process was fairly easy. Simple questions to think about and answer.

1. First of all, did I have a word for 2013?
My word was Journey - I knew 2013 would be a Journey to better health, more confidence in my body, and pushing myself to improve my photography. All of these things I feel I accomplished.

2. What did I embrace in 2013?
Strengthening my body. Allowing myself a day a week to devote to my creative work. Meeting and enjoying new friends.

3. What did I let go of in 2013?
Guilt for taking time to work on my creative outlets. Negative friends. The feeling of not being good enough.

4. What did I discover about myself in 2013?
I love exploring. I love abandoned and decaying buildings. I love history. I am returning to a world of writing and story telling.

5. What was I most grateful for in 2013?
A supportive husband who is willing to watch me grow, but who is also willing to step out and try new things with me. I am also grateful for my personal trainer, Maribeth. The relationship we have built this year means the world to me. I am also grateful for some wonderful new friends.

6. When did I practice bravery in 2013?
I committed to a 10 mile, 2000 feet in elevation gain, hike/climb over Siyeh Pass in Glacier National Park. A big hurdle for me, it was hard but I did it.

7. List three achievements that I am most proud of for 2013.

  • The improvement of my photography skills.
  • Sticking with Personal Training for the whole year.
  • My new blog series "Taking the Backroads". 

8. How has my life changed? What have I learned about myself?

  • I have more confidence in my photography skills and feel ready to commit to making an on-line portfolio. I am good enough!
  • I have more confidence in my body and know that I can lift weights and become stronger.
  • I am more confident going places by myself and I am not so afraid to carry my camera into places or stop by the side of the road. I don't feel so self conscious anymore.

Describe 2013 in 3 words:

           JOURNEY                     CONFIDENCE                         JOY

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Cooking with Fustini's

The best gifts don't always come in beautifully wrapped boxes with handcrafted gift tags.

Mallory, being a college student with a limited gift giving budget, can't afford to give her dad the latest and greatest hiking/backpacking gear or afford to give her mom a wonderful new photography gadget. Instead she chooses to give a memorable experience. This is something she has been doing for my Mother's Day present for the past few years, and frankly it is the gift I look forward to the most. This year she decided to incorporate a memorable experience as her main gift to Glen and I.

Her gift to us was a two hour multi-course cooking demonstration class at Fustini's. Fustini's is a Michigan based oil and vinegar shoppe with five Michigan locations, one of which happens to be located in our beautiful downtown. Our class was scheduled for Friday afternoon.

The class size was small, just our family of three and another family of five. We got to watch Chef Andy, Fustini's Corporate Chef prepare all kinds of wonderful edibles.

First was Corn Fried Oysters with Jalapeño Cream. I have never had oysters before, so I was surprised how much I liked them. Although it seems like a lot of hard work getting them out of the shell.

The photographer in me really wanted to take one of the empty shells home so I could photograph it.

Next was Timpani of Eggplant with Pomodoro Basilica. Timpani means drum, so the eggplant strips were formed in the cup so they were drum-like shaped.

Some came out of the mold better than others. Which encouraged me, things don't go perfectly even for seasoned chefs.

Blood Orange, Fennel and Arugula Salad. I don't think I have ever had fennel before either. Interesting flavor, maybe not my most favorite. The oranges were divine though.

Mille Feuille of Beef Tenderloin with Red Onion Marmalade and Horseradish Cream. All I can say is yum! The red onion marmalade with the horseradish cream created a wonderfully unique flavor concoction. 

Fried White Polenta with Spicy Shrimp. YES SPICY!! I think the whole store was coughing when he added the Chili Verde Seasoning. It definitely hung in the air for a while.

No meal is complete without dessert. Creme Brûlée! I think this might be the best Creme Brûlée I have ever had. 

What a wonderful, memorable experience Mallory gave us. The best kind of cooking class; watching, learning and eating without getting messy or having to clean up. 

Mallory has become obsessed with the magazine Kinfolk over the past few months, and she recently read an article on their website related to this very idea of giving memorable experiences instead of more stuff that we don't really need. This just goes to show my girl is ahead of her time since she has been doing this for a few years already. 

I can't wait to see what she comes up with next year :)

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Taking the Backroads - The Need for Speed

Tis that time of year when everything execelerates. The rush to get everything done; the shopping, the decorating, the baking, the exploring.

I felt the need for speed in my backroads adventure this week as well. Instead of going on my usual Friday, I went on Wednesday. Mainly because on Wednesday the temperature was 50 degrees, on Friday the high was suppose to be 23 degrees. I know that I have very little bearable weather left for these adventures until Spring.


I picked a southerly route this week, traveling from my home in Holland south on M-40 to Paw Paw. I have to say that everyone traveling on M-40 had the need for speed. I felt that constantly somebody was riding up my rear end. So I tried to pull over as much as possible. I don't want to hold others up, but I also don't want to be rushed along.

My first stop was Baseline Lake. In the early days of our marriage, Glen and I would come here after work at night or on the weekend to go fishing. We caught lots of bluegill, sunfish and occasionally a Rock Bass, we had some great times out there on the water.

Barn Assortment

I found some beautiful barns on my way down to Paw Paw.

No adventure is complete without a No Trespassing sign.

Paw Paw

I had lunch in Paw Paw. Because it was very congested trying to get out of the restaurant parking lot to turn left, the way I needed to go, I turned right and went down a side street to get back behind the restaurant and be going the direction I needed to go. On the street behind the restaurant was this bit of grunge heaven. A vacant warehouse that is for sale. The warehouse was built in 1900 and has 18,500 square feet, has 15' ceilings and ample parking on site.

These doors were calling to me…

Loved this red boat that was sitting around back of the warehouse.

Of course around back of the warehouse I had my usual paranoia about finding a dead body. Thankfully nothing but weeds and broken glass.

These weeds were growing in the gutter along the roofline of the building.

I love old doors, and these with the broken glass were no exception.

Leaving Paw Paw, I took a different route home. It is good to cover as much scenic territory as possible. I have been wanting to stop at this Dutch market since early fall, when they were actually open, I finally decided to stop on this adventure. I was rewarded with some great vintage playground equipment. I recently wrote a guest post on Vintage Playground toys here on my friend Helen's blog.

I am participating in Tracey Clark's Picture the Holidays, 31 days of photographic prompts. One of them was grounded. I thought this was perfect for that prompt.

Last shot of the day was this sign at the beginning of a row of apple trees. I love how the farm house is visible in the distance.

Are you feeling the need for speed this holiday season?

Joining Helen for Weekend Walks.